You will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel where you are free to rest or just wander around Miraflores, the area of Lima where your hotel is located. Some of Lima's best galleries, shops and restaurants are found in this area. Founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, Lima is the oldest capital in South America, with a superb combination of Spanish Colonial and 19th century European architecture. Overnight in Lima, your accommodation is the Casa Andina Private Collection.
Today will begin with a morning city tour of old and new Lima. You then visit the brilliant Larco Herrera Museum for an overview of the history of Peru. The museum is home to a fantastic ceramic collection, stunning gold and silver pieces used by notable rulers of pre-Columbian Peru and intricate weaving work, housed in an 18th century viceroy mansion, built on the site of a pre Columbian pyramid. The visit to the museum will provide a fitting historical perspective for the rest of your travels in Peru. Overnight Casa Andina Private Collection.
This morning we will farewell Lima and fly to Cusco. On arrival our private vehicle will whisk us toward the Chinchero Plateau from where we get impressive views of three mountain ranges, before entering the Sacred valley near a good restaurant where we can savour dishes made with locally grown produce. After a leisurely lunch we head for our hotel in the valley. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy beauty of the Sacred Valley of the Incas or if you'd prefer, unwind at your lovely hotel, either the El Albergue Ollantaytambo or the Pacaritampu Ollantaytambo, depending on availability. Both have lovely atmosphere and character.
Another day in this beautiful place. The valley actually follows the course of the famous Urubamba River, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River. During our time in the here we visit some of the enthralling citadels, fortresses and temple ruins that are found along the valley including the site at Ollantaytambo. The village itself is a fascinating mixture of Inca and Colonial architecture. We then drive up the Patacancha valley to visit the small weaving hamlet of Marcacocha to watch a weaving demonstration and to learn of this fascinating tradition. After a picnic lunch we walk downhill for 90 minutes back to Ollantaytambo (of course if you prefer not to walk the vehicle will be available). Overnight in Ollantaytambo
This morning after a hearty breakfast we will join the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes before taking the bus to Machu Picchu. We will thoroughly explore these remarkable and truly enigmatic ruins. We will enjoy a guided tour of the sanctuary which lasts 2 hours and at the end, you will have another 2 hours in the company of the guide to explore this fascinating site. In the afternoon we will take the short journey by bus to the village of Aguas Calientes, where we will spend the night at the beautifully appointed El Mapi hotel (or similar depending on availability).
This morning we drive up to the ruins in time for the opening and savour the views and the atmosphere as the light changes as the sun rises. We have another 2 hours guided tour visiting the sites that you may have missed yesterday; for example - walking up the famous Inca Trail to the 'Gateway of The Sun' (Inti Punku) for the best view of Machu Picchu, or to the Inca Bridge. After the official tour ends, you will have another 2 hours in the company of the guide to continue exploring this incredible site. In the afternoon we will take the Vistadome train back to Ollantaytambo where we transfer to our vehicle for the drive back to Cusco. Here we transfer to our lovely Casa Andina Private collection hotel to settle in for our three nights in one of the world's most fascinating cities.
OPTIONAL HUAYNA PICCHU CLIMB OR MACHU PICCHU MOUNTAIN CLIMB - For the more adventurous, you can purchase an additional Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain permit (ask us for costs), and forego the guided tour of Machu Picchu which is non-refundable and nontransferable. Please be aware that this is NOT a guided climb, and it takes minimum 2.5 hours (45 mins up & 45 mins down and some time at the top). Both climbs are very steep (including many small and narrow steps) and can be slippery and are quite very exposed with vertiginous drops. Before purchasing the permit on your behalf (non-refundable and non-transferable), we require any passengers to sign a waiver form. Note - there are limited Huayna Picchu permits and they sell out fast.
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. The city, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro's men took the city with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city and a chance to look at some of the great varieties of local craft work on sale in open air stalls and shops.
A good day to relax and perhaps a chance to do some 'tourist shopping', selecting from a great variety of expertly made craft work - including alpaca sweaters and hats, ceramics, weavings and traditional Andean instruments. In the evening we prepare for the next stage of our journey through the Andes.
We depart early in the morning for the 6 to 8 hour journey by private vehicle to Puno set on the shores of Lake Titicaca at 12,630' (3,820m). The road takes us south along the great valley below Cusco and then as we head further south we start to climb towards the great continental divide at La Raya. To the east we see some of the strange peaks of the Carabaya Range. From the pass we descend quickly onto the vast dry altiplano with its isolated villages and herds of Andean camelid including the alpaca and vicu a. Our first glimpses of lake Titicaca remind us that this is hardly a lake - its more like a vast inland sea that also happens to be the highest navigable lake in the world! On arrival we will transfer to our Casa Andina Private collection hotel.
Puno is a typical high Andean town, set on the great altiplano that surrounds the lake and stretches all the way to La Paz. After breakfast we head down to the old lake port with its century old steamers still tied up at the wharf. From here we board small motor boat to cruise out to visit the famous Uros Islands. These islands often given the misnomer of 'floating islands' are in fact tortora reed mats that grow out of the shallower waters of the vast bay of Puno. The islands have for centuries been occupied by the small Uros community who continue their traditional methods of 'farming' and fishing the lake. We'll also visit the 'Yavari' - a wonderful old steam boat built in England in the mid 19th century and then transported to Chile and up over the Andes to Lake Titicaca! We'll spend the night at our lovely Casa Andina private collection hotel, on the shores of the largest lake in South America and highest navigable lake with passenger boats in the world.
After breakfast we will drive to Sillustani, to learn of the ancient burial towers built on a small plateau above a wonderful high Andean lake. Continue to Juliaca airport for flight to Lima and connecting flights homeward.